Gang Truce in El Salvador – by Juan Carlos

El Salvador

Salvadorans go about their day and hope that the country will soon be safer.

Freelance photojournalist Juan Carlos has been covering the truce between the two major gangs in El Salvador.

El Salvador was labeled as on of the most violent countries in the western hemisphere. This stigma was relinquished in March of this year, when the unexpected news of a truce between the two major gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS) and Barrio 18 was announced. This peace accord came from a dialogue between the church and government with gang leaders whom are serving long jail sentences in the overcrowded prisons of El Salvador. There was a lot of uncertainty about this agreement, which meant that the two gangs or “MARAS” would lessen their crime activity, especially homicides. Since then homicides have been reduced to about 60%, to an average of 5 homicides per day compared to 13 before the truce. Although this is a good condition for the Salvadoran peoples, there is still consternation about the violence and gangs in the country. Throughout the truce crimes related to gang activity have continued to happen, some due to non-payment of extortions, random killings of teenage students and others for not complying with the gang leaders orders of the truce. The occurrence of the disappeared have increased, according to Legal Medicine records show about 1000 disappears since this pact between the gangs started and mass graves have been unearth with bodies of persons believed to be victims of the violence generated by the gangs. The truce continues and the country is mourning less but will it be forever.

See more photos on Juan’s website.

El Salvador

Members of the Barrio 18 gang in the Cojutepeque prison.

El Salvador

A gang member carries a couple of sacs containing weapons as a symbolic gesture to surrender weapons to the OEA (Organization of the American States) general secretary Jose Miguel Insulza during his visit to overlook the process of the truce.

El Salvador

The Anti-Gang Unit was created in order to combat the gangs in the country.

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